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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why I Am a Calvinist

I will not be long nor belabor the point. However, the primary reason I am a Calvinist is that I have realized that I have a limited control over my environment, circumstances and my direction in life. Yes, I have a free will in matters of choices when it comes to clothes, jobs, and getting married. But even here God's will and providence is overriding. As the Bible says, we ought not to brag about where we are going or what we are going to do but we ought to say, "If it be thy will." (See James 4:13-17).

When I was a child I felt helpless and was glad I had a father and a mother to protect me. I soon realized that I was not the same as the other children. There were times when the other children were better provided for while I and my brothers and sisters did without. Especially after my father died when I was 12 and leaving my mother as a widow with 7 children, I realized that circumstances and events in my life were out of my control. God, I realized, was in control and had a secret plan which I could not see.

I did not choose my parents. I did not choose their financial situation or how many brothers and sisters I would have. I didn't choose what geographical area we would live or where I would be born. I did not choose which day of the week or the hour of the day I would be born upon. I did not choose to be male. I didn't choose what century I would be born in or what language I would speak. I didn't choose my race nor did I choose the faith or religion of my parents. I did not choose what country on the face of the earth where I would be born and raised.

I could go on and on. I didn't even choose Christianity. God chose it for me! I didn't know much of anything when a lady from down the street in Anniston, Alabama invited me to church when I was 8 years-old. I didn't choose the denomination or the message that morning. God did all that. The fact that it was a pentecostal church was irrelevant. The message that morning was one of law and gospel and how sinners are under God's wrath until they are converted and come to faith. But behind all of this, God was working and effectually calling me to the Christian faith. I had no idea where all that would lead. I didn't realize that I would later go to Bible college or seminary or become a Calvinist.

However, the one thing I do realize is that it was not really my choice at all. God, who is all powerful and all wise, knew what He was doing and where He would lead me. It was God who elected me before creation. It was God who made me in my mother's womb and who knew all the days of my life before I lived even one day of them. It was God who planned that I would hear the Gospel at age 8 and be awakened to the Christian faith! No, I didn't cooperate because I had no idea what the Gospel was! I came to life from the dead because it was God Himself who raised me from spiritual death, opened my eyes to see and my ears to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was God who elected me, regenerated me, and converted me to faith by repentance. Yes, from beginning to end, it was God Himself who saved me (Ephesian 1:3-13). I did nothing to save myself or contribute to it. And God's predestination is a sweet comfort to me because I know that Jesus died for me specifically and by name! He didn't just die for everyone in general. I'm not just another number in the crowd. God's love is for me in particular and not just for everyone in general. I don't have to wonder if God is going to disown me or reject me or get rid of the adoption papers! No! I know beyond all doubt that God will see through to the end what He began for me before I was ever thought of by my parents, before the creation of Adam and Eve.

The mystery is this. Modern science has discovered the vastness of the universe. The universe is more vast than man has ever considered before. Billions of light years separate the galaxies and farthest reaches of space. I am relatively insignificant in light of the size of the earth and even less significant in light of the grandeur and sheer size of the known universe. And God Himself is even more infinite than anything in His universe. And yet.......? God loves ME and I belong to HIM. And He calls me by NAME (John 10:3). I'm not just a microbe on the dirt to Him. He loved me so much that He planned to send Jesus to die for my sins and Jesus knew my name and that I would be one of His sheep before the foundation of the world(Revelation 13:8).

If any would denigrate so precious a salvation, he or she is either a fool or just plain ignorant! For God so loved ME that He gave His one and only Son for ME! (John 3:16-18). God has His elect all over the world and He loves them just as He loves me(John 11:51-52; 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1-4; 1 John 2:2). The Lord knows His own (2 Timothy 2:19).

I am a Calvinist because I know that I am totally dependent on God for everything that I am, everything I have, and everything I shall be in this life and in the next. Every breath I breathe and every heartbeat I have from one microsecond to the next is sustained and given by God Himself in His providence and care. At any moment He could cut me off and leave without life and without redemption. While I deserved justice and I deserve to be separated from God for all eternity, God sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to live a perfect life in my place and to merit eternal life where I could only sin and fall short. Where I could not pay the penalty or redeem myself from God's justice and His righteous wrath against me, Jesus died to pardon my sins and satisfy God's justice against me. Jesus reconciled me to the Father where I was separated by my sins and trespasses and He adopted me in the family of God to be in communion with Him and with His people forever.

Yes, it is true for those who believe. God's will is for us to worship Him and to glorify Him and what follows naturally after that is that we will enjoy Him and His company and fellowship forever. Soli gloria Deo!!! Glory be to God alone!
1 Peter 2:21-25 (ESV)21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. [1]

[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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